Usually my Octobers consist of quietly preparing for winter around my house. The hectic summer pace slows, and I'm able to relax when the time changes, because the sun is not up until midnight. Unlike my usual Octobers, this year, October turned into a wild month for me. My beautiful daughter married a lovely young man and they moved into their own place. My husband and I had some vehicular issues (all totally beyond our control) that required our full-time attention, most of which fell to my poor husband to deal with. I don't know what I'd do without him.
And now, finally, November is here and we're all settling in.
I launched my newsletter in October with an excerpt from my current work in progress, a novella that I have tentatively titled In Midnight's Silence. I'm now about 13,000 words into the story and it's starting to come together. I love writing a synopsis for a story, but I also give myself room to be flexible. That is where the surprises come in. I know what needs to happen, but the how of it all sometimes becomes different.
The coolest part of October/November is that Alex Bledsoe and I are working on a project together. It is a secret project for now, but the good news is that it is under a tight deadline so you won't have to wait too long to read it.
The thing I can talk about is what it is like to work with Alex. It's been a long time since I've had this much fun writing a story, and it's made me that much more aware of the importance of keeping positive people in my life, especially in my art.
Alex has a great sense of humor and it shows in his writing. Humor is an important part of life and art. Humor is self-effacing and never directed maliciously toward another. It gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves and our foibles.
Don't confuse humor with snark. Snark is something I used to do and had to learn to stop. Snark is when I put you down in order to make me feel better about myself because of my low self-esteem. Snark is vicious and written with a sneer.
So I'm learning more about how to incorporate humor into my stories, and I have an excellent teacher. I've also remembered why it is so important to bring people into my life who are positive. That doesn't mean they always see the sunny side of life. It simply means that they are honest and forthright, but they are not cruel.
It's very important, especially if you're new to writing, to surround yourself with people who guide you gently into your art. We say we cannot teach you how to write, and that is kind of true. We can teach story and structure, the technicalities of the art, but you have to find your voice and your themes. These are things that make your stories a part of you.
Remain teachable and open to new ideas, but most importantly, seek out companions who build you up with grace and humor, not snark.
And that is my $10 writing advice for the week.
Before I go, a couple of note-worthy reviews for The Broken Road:
Mihir Wanchoo at Fantasy Book Critic: The Broken Road is a novella that showcases how dark fantasy & horror can make an intense combination.
Sarah at Bookworm Blues: Enter Teresa Frohock, the woman who manages to somehow build an entire world, charged political system, complex characters, and an attempted coup of the government into 100 pages. If authors had superpowers, hers would be, well, writing. The Broken Road proves how much a person can pack into a novella if a writer carefully crafts their story. Not only are all those elements in the novella, but they are all believable, and fleshed out in such a way that it made me forget I was reading a novella.